After a recent incident, I wanted to clear up exactly what our stance is regarding posting up a person’s private details on the site. It’ll be in two parts, to cover the person’s details and their images.
Firstly, regarding images. If an image is received from a scammer, we’ll post it up. If the image contains a child, we’ll obscure their face. If we can find the real person whose images are being abused by scammers, we’ll let them know and offer any help we can if they reply. We won’t post up any images that weren’t received from a scammer, even if there are others of that person available online. That’s important to us.
Sometimes we receive an email claiming to be a particular person/entity. Again, we’ll post it as is and try and let them know about the scammer abusing their name as part of their scheme. If the scammer mentions another person/entity partway through the scam (for example, telling the person to send money to them via Western Union, Moneygram etc.) then that simply gets posted up. Where it gets more tricky is when the scammer uses banking details that belong to someone else. Here’s how we deal with that. If the information is in the first email, then we post it as that’s the script hundreds or thousands of others would also have received. If however, a scammer shares banking information further into the script, then none of that will be shared with the public. We have contacts in various banks’ fraud departments that we send the information to, and leave them to deal with it.
So in a nutshell, we’ll post up images used by scammers, as well as emails/names where they pretend to be other people. Where we can, we’ll let the real people know about it. If a scammer mentions other organisations, then they sinply get posted with no further action taken. When it comes to bank details, if it’s in the initial email we’ll post it, but simply pass it on to the banking authorities if they arrive partway into the dialogue with the scammer. Hopefully that clears it up for everyone.
Those who know me, will know that I suffer from occasional panic attacks. They’ll also know that I have to avoid certain stimulants such as caffeine like the plague. No morning cup of coffee for me, only caffeine free cokes and Dr Pepper is completely out of the question which is a shame as I used to love that stuff. Something else was added to that list a few weeks ago. To treat a sinus infection, I was given a steroid spray. The day after, I woke up to one of the worst attacks I’ve ever had. Now usually when I get a panic attack, it’ll fade off within 15-20 minutes. Not this time. This damn thing lasted a week non stop! This is the second time I’ve had a reaction to a steroid spray or cream, but this was the one that confirmed it’s the cause. I was OK for a day or so after that week long episode, but then it came on me with a second wave that lasted on and off for two whole weeks. When these happen, it’s pretty much impossible to function. I can’t sit down, can’t sleep, can’t concentrate on anything and am generally no use to man nor beast. If you’ve never had the misfortune to suffer with a panic attack, think yourself lucky. At times it physically feels like you’re dying, and at other times you would welcome death to put an end to the suffering. I have enough experience to know what was going on, but even that’s small comfort when you’re going through it for the fifth day solid with no respite. Thankfully it’s been a week now since the last episode, so I’m hoping things are back to “normal” here. What I’d like to say is that, while all this was going on, the rest of the crew stepped up to cover me. For that I’d like to say thank you. The small group that work on this site are people I genuinely consider some of my closest friends, and times like this only reinforce that feeling. Now let’s hope the next attack is a long way away as there’s scammers to deal with!
I’ve had some time to think about this . If you’re unaware, Facebook has supposedly made it easier to report fake ads, and donated £3 million to a UK charity after being taken to court by a UK celebrity over misleading ads featuring his image. Now, here’s my thoughts on it in no particular order:
3 million pounds is the equivalent to 90 minutes’ worth of revenue. It’s chump change to them, and my guess is that it’s garnered them millions in publicity anyway seeing as the story was pretty much everywhere. How much do you think that much media exposure would have cost them otherwise?
One report I read claims the amount was ” in cash and Facebook ad credits “. Many, many years ago, I worked in a camera shop. A couple came in and bought several hundred pounds’ worth of equipment for a “once in a lifetime” holiday they were going on. It was around the £5-600 mark if I remember. They asked if there was any chance of a discount, and I offered them 10% off, or £100 worth of films and developing. They took the films, happy that they’d managed a good deal and made the right choice. Here’s the thing though. That £100 I gave away only cost the company about £35. How much of this 3 million is in ad credits that likely cost Facebook a fraction of what they’re selling them for?
The service is only in the UK. Elsewhere, nothing has changed. Ads will still appear, Facebook will still charge to display those ads, just now UK users can report them easier to get them removed.
The money went to set up a service called Citizens Advice Scams Action (Casa). Once that 3 million has been used, what happens then? Do we think Facebook will give more, or walk away leaving a service having to beg for money elsewhere in order to continue running.
Is it a good thing? On the surface, yes. Look a little deeper though, and maybe it’s not quite as good as it’s been made out to be.
This week we appeared in a documentary about sextortion. It’s actually a pretty good one that came so close to being great. To watch it, you can go to https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/video-on-demand/the-dark-web/queen-of-sextortion-11679252
So what was missing? I mean, they talk about the scam, explain how it works, talk about the person who they claim created it, interview the scammers themselves, what more could you want? Let me explain it with this analogy. You take your car to the garage because it’s making a weird noise. The mechanic talks to you about the history of the car, its good and bad points, what things are likely to go wrong with it and then – nothing. He missed out the one most important thing, what to do to fix the problem. There’s the crux of the matter. For all the good the program did (and I actually did enjoy it), it really needed a “what should you do if the scam happened to you” section. Briefly explain the steps needed. That would have made a good documentary into a great documentary in my eyes.
Scammers pretend to be anyone and everyone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bank, soldier, politician, government agency or courier company. They don’t care what damage it does to their reputation. Hell, they don’t even care if the person’s even alive. Good looking soldier? That’ll do nicely, even if the picture has come from an obituary. I wish I was making that up, but it’s true. When we receive an email from a scammer, we post it up word for word. If we can find the person they’re pretending to be, we try to let them know. That’s where the problems can arise. A number of times, I’ve received requests to remove information from the forum. Sometimes the requests are polite, sometimes I’ve received screamed abuse down the phone. Remember this though. All we’re doing is copying what the scammer has said to us. Not only what he’s said to us, but what he’s said to tens, even hundreds of other people. Scammers have their scripts that they send out en masse. If we’ve posted an email from a scammer claiming to be a company, many others would have received it too. We’re simply relaying the information so others can be warned. Don’t take it out on us just because we’re saying what the scammer has said. It would be like complaining to your local news station when they’ve shown footage of someone saying something you don’t approve of. They didn’t say it, nor do they necessarily agree with it. They’re only letting people know what was said. Same with us. If you want to get angry at someone, how about the person who said it originally. Don’t bite our heads off, we’re just sharing the facts.